David Carson Influences | Modern Graphic Design

Considered to be one of the world’s most influential graphic designers (Layers Magazine, 2007) David Carson is a name synonymously associated with post-modern design. This essay investigates Carson’s career from its beginning in the design industry by means of a full biography before venturing on into post-modern and sub-cultural influences on the designer, the emergence and development of key aspects of post-modernist design within the work of David Carson and the positive and negative impact and influence he has had on modern graphic design.

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Born in Texas on September 8th, 1955 David Carson dedicated his early career to being a professional surfer, David attained a standing of number 8 in the world rankings while being a high school teacher in California (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2012a). A late starter to the graphic design industry, Carson’s first real design experience came during a two-week commercial design course in Switzerland as part of his sociology degree. The class, taught by Swiss designer, Hans-Rudolf Lutz (Sacharoq, 1996: p.8), whose influence was so significant that Carson made a decision to pursue a career in graphic design and enrolled full time in a small ‘art college’ upon his return home to the United States. In an interview with Marc Cameron, founder of fotorater.com; Carson explains the beginning of his design career: ‘taking the advice of a friend’ who, at the time was the editor of Skateboarder magazine to contact the art director. ‘I immediately started harassing this art director, sending him every little thing I was working on’ (Cameron, 2012a). This dogged persistence paid off and soon Carson was working in the studio voluntarily; pasting up advertisements and eventually composing an editorial spread for the magazine.
Carson’s first ‘real job’ in the design profession was working as a designer at the surfer publication titled Self and Musician as well as being an employed part-time designer for the magazine Transworld Skateboarding (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2012b). This enabled him to experiment with design, developing his now characteristic style of chaotic spreads – overlapping photos and mixed up, altered typefaces. In 1989 Carson changed occupations and became art director of Beach Culture magazine producing a total of six magazines before the journal folded, this earned him more than 150 design awards (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2012c) and a new position in a design role at its sister publication Surfer magazine, which catapulted him into the design spotlight. Carson then caught the attention of Marvin Jarret, publisher of Ray Gun an alternative music publication, who hired Carson as its art director in 1992. The monumental success of the publication between the years 1992 and 1995, with the help of Carson’s radical design vision, saw Ray Gun’s subscribers triple in numbers. This feat is most commonly attributed to the design strategy that seemed to be particularly appealing to the youth demographic (Kenyaferrand.com, n.d.) which led to several large corporations spotting an opportunity in Carson’s design work to increase youth sales of their respective products. Commissions earned by Carson followed to design printed advertisements and direct television commercials.
In 1995, Carson left Ray Gun and established his own design company David Carson Design. The business was an instant success, and Carson was able to secure a large and diverse corporate client base with companies such as Microsoft, Pepsi and Giorgio Armani. Carson’s first book titled The End of Print: The Graphic Design of David Carson, released in 1995 and has since become the top selling graphic design book of all time with sales in excess of over 200,000 copies (David Carson Design, n.d.). Followed by the boldly experimental books 2nd Sight (1997), Fotografiks (1999), and Trek (2003) (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2012d).
Post-modernist design influences on David Carson:
Post-modernist design, described in the art and popular culture encyclopaedia as:
A cultural, intellectual or artistic state, which lacks a clear central hierarchy or organizing principle and which embodies extreme complexity, contradiction, ambiguity, diversity and interconnectedness (artandpopularculture.com, u.d.).
This is evident in Carson’s hallmark style of distorted type and his rejection of the conventional ideas of typographic syntax, visual hierarchy and imagery. The text in Carson’s work often challenges the fundamental criteria for legibility by the exploration of reverse reading, extreme forced justification, columns jammed together with no gutter and the erratic letter spacing across images, arranged in expressive rather than normative sequences.
In his book, A Century of Graphic Design, author Jeremy Aynsley (2001: p. 233a) states that:
Carson’s work is greatly indebted to the work of Wolfgang Weingart and the Cranbrook academy, belonging to the tradition of deconstructive typography.
This statement holds an immense amount of strength as Carson has characterised his style by embracing what could be considered as vernacular design, upsetting the rules of modernist typography with inconsistent weights and spacing of letterforms and adopting a multi-layered approach to both word and image; questioning the original meaning of the text and interpreting it into his own unique message.
Aynsley (2001: p. 233b) goes on to explain how:
Carson counters the modernist position “form follows function”, instead opting to use layout to explore the meaning. The typographic form is expected to represent ideas actively, rather than present a transparent medium.
Much of Carson’s work has also been influenced by the surfing sub-culture; his early professional surfing career allowed him to identify with and relate to his target audience. In his interview with Marc Cameron, Carson states: ‘growing up around that culture put me in a more experimental mindset’ (Cameron, 2012b). This experimental and somewhat chaotic approach to design appealed to the sub-culture that surrounded the surfing and skating communities, and in a sense gave them their own identity with the styling of publications related to their specific demographic. Aynsley (2001: p. 232) has claimed that advertisers soon noticed the potential benefits of someone who could embody the interests of young consumers.
Post-modernist theories in David Carson’s work:
David Carson’s work holds true to many key aspects of post-modernism, especially with his philosophies countering of modernist theories such as “form follows function”. This is evident in the visually driven arrangement of type, by allowing letterforms or flow from spread to spread, by the extreme or unnatural cropping of single images or his highly expressive use of typography to express his own interpretation of the message to the viewer. The latter is most famously noted in his spread for an interview with Brian Ferry in Ray Gun magazine, an article which Carson states in his conference on design and discovery, published on Ted.com ‘I found the interview boring, so I set the whole article in dingbat’ (Carson, 2009)
During Carson’s employment with Ray Gun, there were further embracements of post-modernist theories encompassed by audience participation within the magazine’s content. In his book, A History of Graphic Design, Phillip Meggs (1998: p.463a) has noted how Carson ‘turned over half a dozen pages to the readers to display their illustrations for song lyrics’. The encouragement of audience participation and engagement also acted as an enhancement of the sub-cultural identity to the already burgeoning audience generated by the publication.
The impact of David Carson on modern graphic design:
David Carson is arguably the most innovative and influential graphic designer of the 1990’s (Blackwell, 1995: p. 1) and without doubt the most talked about, gaining an army of both admirers and detractors throughout his career. Blackwell (1995: p.10) has noted how ‘Carson has progressed from being an unknown designer of a short-lived specialist magazine to being one of the most decorated designers in the world’. This statement that holds weight in the sense that Carson’s work has made a breakthrough from sub-culture to the mainstream of mass communication his work now considered being ‘the cutting edge of the leading communications culture’ (Blackwell, 1995: p. 18).
Carson’s continual reinvention of the relationship between design and type, has changed the course of graphic design and crystalized the look and attitude of an entire generation, making him a powerful catalyst for design change (Aynsley, 2001: p. 233c). Running several workshops for graphic design students worldwide has provided Carson with a cult following of inspired young designers while at the same time angering some communications professionals who believed he had ‘crossed the line between order and chaos’ (Meggs, 1998: p.463b). The lack of a prominent theory or a defined set of rules within Carson’s work does not necessarily mean that the work is chaotic; instead it challenges conventional design practices with Carson’s belief that as Blackwell (1995: p 27) claims that ‘you cannot not communicate’ and ‘Don’t mistake legibility for communication’.
The benefits on studio work as a result of topics covered in this module:
The topics covered in this module have dramatically benefitted my studio work; they have given me an insight into historical design practices and an understanding of key movements that I previously would not have considered in both my research and in producing potential design solutions.
Post-modernism and David Carson in particular has been a monumental inspiration and my work in both the learning activities and the summative assessment covering the subject of his design work and processes; inspiring me to take a more expressive outlook on my design and not limiting myself to conventional solutions to design briefs. I now take into account how more expressionist designs can attract and engage the intended audience, more than traditional messages that offer little visual appeal. Designing pieces that have direct links to Carson’s design philosophies; considering the emotion conveyed by a piece of work has added an extra dimension to previous practices and has reignited my passion for design.

Modernism vs Postmodernism Graphic Design

Throughout the 19th century artists and painters had a very conservative mindset when it came to the presentation of art. The images and art forms that were made during this time were composed of a certain artistic mold which reflected conservative moral values, virtuosity, righteousness, nobility, sacrifice, and Christianity . Most artists during this time period conformed to the common artistic mold, which is clearly seen in the works of that century. The 20th century however, saw a new period of design known as modernism, which would eventually lead to postmodernism after World War II.

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Unlike the artworks of the 19th century, the modernist and postmodernist periods were composed of very revolutionary and transformed images. The ideas and opinions behind the images became more open-minded and hence the images themselves were more flexible and avant-garde . The period of modernism saw the partial abandonment of conservative traditions. Modern artists looked ahead to the future and not to the past, they supported freedom of expression and equality.
The years between World War I and World War II allowed modernism to expand dramatically. Propaganda and war posters are perfect examples of modernism . Not only did modern artists provide social awareness; they also actively supported political revolutions, such as the Russian Revolution. The Russian revolution provided and excellent opportunity for modern artists to experiment with new expression methods. The posters and propaganda of this revolution in particular were very abstract and futuristic, almost industrial; all of which fitted the Soviet ideology . A very important historical piece of modernism is its emergence in Germany. Typography in German graphic design was very important, Bauhaus for example used very specific typography and rules but more importantly analyzed the specific roles of items to transmit information. It is interesting that modernism was also seen in German graphic design as some critics believe that World War II effectively drew an end to the true spirit of modernism .
Keeping in mind the social and political background of modernism, the actual graphical aspects of modernist design make sense. Modernist images were generally very symmetrical and alignment was very important. Images were structured and simplified; fonts were arranged in very specific manners to complement the images themselves. Fonts were generally simple such as sans serif or sometimes looked almost hand drawn. Also popular in modernist graphic designs were the use of rules and empty space as components of the work’s structure. The famous Uncle Sam and Britons recruitment poster of World War I are simplified images, with very basic font. In both posters the images and fonts are arranged according to a grid, and as such they are very leveled and aligned. An interesting point in both posters is the font is different for the word you, it is bolded and outlined providing more emphasis on the importance of the person reading it. These are only brief descriptions of many similar works of the modernist time period .
Following World War II and what some consider the end of modernism a new form of graphic design materialized this is known as postmodernism. This period time started sometime in the 1950s and continues today. Some consider postmodernism to be a movement against modernism. While modernism was more pure, rational and truthful postmodernism was more chaotic and stylized, it no longer had such deep meaning behind the designs. Postmodernism uses symbols, images, and typography as simple stylistic devices. Unlike the structural and simple modernist designs, postmodernist design is obsessed with style and creativity, basically looks. Graphic design was now being presented in popular media in the same methods as fashion; it was up-to-date, advanced, and tasteful . This time period included the Cuban Revolution and of course the Vietnam War, both of which allowed artist to create interesting works of graphic design.
The technical aspects of postmodernist graphic designs were very different from those of modernist design despite having some similarities. Postmodernist design included collages, photography, some hand-drawn images, and in general more chaotic and improvised arrangements. The postmodernism period also witnessed the dawn of a new age. The development of the computer and continuing ingenuity in technology presented new opportunities and new methods for graphic design. Technological developments, particularly in communications also brought forth the possibilities of mass media and culture. Graphic designers were now able to apply their craft to Television, Radio, Print, Mass Marketing, Advertising, and eventually the Internet.
A particular aspect of mass media and culture where the differences and similarities between modernist and postmodernist graphic design can be seen is Music, more specifically the artwork of the album covers. The following examples are fine illustrations of the different design types. The modernist designed album cover is Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut album Elvis Presley, while the postmodernist designed album cover is the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St.
Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley 1956
Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut album was released in March on 1956; to this day it remains one of the greatest and most iconic album covers of all time according to Rolling Stone magazine . Several artists have borrowed and mimicked the album cover, including The Clash which used it for their 1979 album London Calling which coincidently is also on Rolling Stone’s greatest album cover list. It is amazing how iconic the album cover is despite its shear simplicity, a simple photograph with the title Elvis Presley in very basic font and colors. Following the modernist ‘guidelines’ the title is arranged in a right angle, and the font is completely legible.
The artist’s intent was clear simplicity, legibility, and yet enough color and contrast to peak interest. Having the font in color and the background photo in black in white directs the viewers immediately to reading the title and then the image. The artwork also has a more personal and playful aura due to the particular choice of the colorful and humorous font. This may have been aimed to give the public a feeling of trust and personal acquaintance with Elvis. Another album cover that seems to be very similar to this is the Thelonius Monk 1965 album cover, it shares the simplicity of font and the photo as the background. The qualities of this album cover are clearly modernistic, extremely different when compared to the following sample of postmodern graphic design.
Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St 1972
Similar to Elvis Presley’s debut album, Exile on Main St, is #5 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Album Covers . Released in 1972 the designer of the cover John Van Hamersveld , best described the attitudes of the time “The general tone of the time was one of anarchy — drug dealers and freaks and crazy people left over from the Sixties, all defiant and distorted.” This album cover perfectly captured that feeling, the unique background and the title looking like it was a last minute thought perfectly capture the whole basis of postmodernism. The background itself has an interesting story, though it may look like a collage of photos it is actually a single photo of a poster that Hamersveld found in a tattoo parlor off route 66. Unlike the Elvis Presley album cover this one plainly shows little or no structure, it is more chaotic.
An analysis of Elvis Presley’s debut album cover and the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St album cover, presents dramatic differences not only in the graphic design but also the historical tone of the time. The modernist design of Elvis’ album cover is simple, clear, and direct; the postmodernist design of the Rolling Stones’ album cover is chaotic, stylish, eye-catching, and rebellious. Yet both albums are designed for one thing to attract the viewers, listeners, and fans alike. In the end it is obvious that both modernism and postmodernism are still important to this day. Thought they may be very different at times, the ultimately share a goal, to be artistic and creative.

Study on the Usability of Semiotics in Graphic Design

Keywords: Fine, flat, graphic design, semiotics, usability studies.
Abstract. Currently, The current flat design has become a mainstream approach is widely used in web design, computer and mobile phone systems, interface design. In graphic design, graphic symbol design is increasingly being taken seriously and use minimalist design symbols often appear in print design plane, PPT presentations, public areas, identity-oriented system like. This paper discusses the design of graphical symbols flat in graphic design use need to make the audience cognitive ability, graphic symbols standardized principles, design principles angles for effective information design to achieve efficient information communication. Materialized mostly graphic image symbols, and mostly flat graphic indicator; flat screen symbol by the proposed development materialized symbol interface evolved. Materialized the graphical interface and the graphical interface is flat coexist and cannot replace each other. During the design, the designer should be based on the advantages and disadvantages of the two styles complement each other interfaces, common graphical interface design services.
Today, the mobile Internet as an important sign towards the information society, information resources to meet the people of the richness, diversity and access mode flexibility, convenience and mobility needs. The emergence of mobile terminal makes access to information even more ways to enhance an absolutely important position, but also because of this, people on the phone’s features, quality and other requirements are also increasing.

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The main task of graphic design is to strengthen the exchange of information between people, is the performance of graphical symbols tool exchange required. The current flat design has become a mainstream approach is widely used in web design, computer and phone system interface, PPT, flat-screen print and in public areas such as identity-oriented system design. Simple graphical symbol accompanied by a short text message to pass different meaning, purpose is to allow people to quickly clear awareness and understanding. Graphic design appropriate symbol not only bring visual beauty, but also to replace the cumbersome expressed in words, to convey information at a glance.
In recent years, flat style swept the field of digital interface, the smart phone in its interface design is also increasingly used to this style, as a smart phone interface main elements, carries the flattened icon indicating the function information important role in transmission, its operating efficiency has been much attention to design practitioners and the research community. Currently on academic research among flat design, the icon for the study of usability problems are more scarce, the vast majority of existing research dedicated to qualitative theoretical analysis, the lack of objective quantitative research as a reference, and thus the actual availability of flat icons lack of a clear conclusion and in this study, for the first time physiological data with a combination of psychological data on the availability of flat icons depth study.
As a smart phone user interface in an integral part of the design of the phone icon in the experience economy driven began to play an increasingly important role, it carries with it the expression of specific functions and the important role of transmitting information. At the same time, the merits of icon design will directly affect the user experience and operational efficiency user interface design has become an important factor affecting the success or failure. Current research work related to academia flat design which is ongoing, this article from the perspective of design elements, the existing theoretical research supplement; At the same time, the existing research on the flat design and design of the actual use of materialized efficiency is no clear discussion of the results, a lot of literature has pointed flat icon simple, efficient features in the study, but the lack of evidence of objective evidence, so we are starting from a usability point of view, as experiments on flat icons materialized icon comparative study, you can search for two types of icons efficiency more in-depth discussion, in order to provide an objective reference for the relevant academic research.

Figure.1 Flat design
The Proposed Methodology
User interface virtualization. With the rapid spread of smart mobile phones alternative to traditional phone and touch-screen technology, mobile phone interface, any original physical button has been gradually transformed into the software interface of the virtual keys. In the pursuit of handset design and integrated accounting wave, many Android phones also have physical buttons below the screen’s only designed to become a key form of induction, a trend that makes the most of the smart phone in addition to home and on key volume, lock screen button, there’s no extra physical keys, the operation of mobile phone users by the majority of the screen is completed, and thus gradually evolved detail gesture commands.

Figure.1 Schematic diagram of operating gestures
flat design.Flat first refers to the modern enterprise management process, in response to the plight of the traditional hierarchical organizational structure faced adopted a management model. The core of the model is to reduce the layers of management and appropriate management of all levels of management to increase the amplitude, and eventually will be similar to the pyramid form of organization into a more flattened form to improve management efficiency. From a social development perspective, the idea of ​​easing the situation well in all areas due to the rapid economic development brought about by organizational level redundancy, and therefore outside the field of business management, this concept also has good application value.
As a new, more and more designers and design style used by the organization, not simply flat design with innovative visual style to win users eye, but through the extra ingredient abandoned in the design and the decorative elements of restraint, giving users a better experience. In the new digital era background, flat design choose a more suitable for the characteristics of the virtual interface design approach, rather than a continuation of the traditional design style, it is precisely because it has brought the rapid development of flat design in recent years.
Materialized design.From the visual style, the materialized with the flat in stark contrast to the former by giving audiences do addition way, the use of shadows, highlights and a gradient effect on image icon to maximize close to the real object, with vivid three-dimensional effect to use bring a strong visual impact; while the latter is in the form of subtraction, to remove redundant decorative elements, and then extract the main part of the article, and present them in the form of simple graphs.
Although the two images using a different design approach (the former and the latter is a flat style quasi-physical style), but both are based on the reality of the alarm image as a template to make too, that the only difference between them in the right sense of reality on more detailed characterization, but nature does not jump out of the old framework to create new timekeeping, this time with a flat quasi-physical difference can be understood as a decorative technique on. Thus, in the course of the study must be combined with the use of a specific object context in order to make a correct understanding of the two design styles.

Figure.1 Flat and materialized style icons
Flat icons in visual form.From the perspective of the visual form of icons, smart phone interface icons can be distinguished from the two dimensions of time and space. From the time dimension, the phone icon can be divided into static and dynamic state. Which as the name suggests is a static icon icon elements remain static icon, the class icon is currently widely used in mobile phones user interface which. And dynamic visual style icon over time is changing, distracting when used in smaller interface, and thus rarely appear among the mobile phone interface.

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From the spatial dimension, the phone icon can be divided into two-dimensional, three-dimensional and three-dimensional space of three forms. Wherein the two-dimensional icon with the latter two diametrically opposed in style, it avoids the shadows, highlights, and other three-dimensional simulation of the effect of the material in the design process, resulting in the visual style it showed a strong tendency to flatten. Further subdivided on the basis of the two-dimensional handset icons can also be divided into simple monochrome icon and complex multi-color icons.
Body element.Flat icons in the main element is the means to play a major role in the transmission of information in the icon section.
Size icons. Due to differences in the smart phone hardware specifications and product positioning on, resulting in the current characteristics of the phone screen size diversity, and to interface design workers brought unprecedented challenges. At the same time, the size of the icon has become a matter of design choice requires workers often face.
Flat internal icon generated.Products due to human practical needs to be created, early product form most simple and plain, after the Arts and Crafts Movement  after the product’s components have been decorated to a new height, in the subsequent internationalism movement, designers again return to reason, he began to pursue the simple and efficient design form. From the design evolution trend is easy to see: With the development of society, design forms are also experiencing an iterative development process from simple to complex and then to mobile phone interface icons materialized birth, it helps people reduce cognitive burden and narrow the distance between the display unit to assume an important role, but with the widespread adoption of smart phones, this role is already overtaken by events. In this case the public needs to be more simple, modern, and can be accommodated in the limited screen design in the form of additional information, in such a social environment flat style icons have emerged, and quickly swept through the design.
It is the image of the symbol of traditional design approach materialized icons used, namely by imitating real objects textures, shadows, and other effects of gradual way to shorten the distance between the user interface and product awareness to reduce costs. But in recent years with the rapid development of diverse Internet products and mobile phone functions, making the product interface is also more and more filled with information, because the flattened icons using more indicators and symbols, therefore its use in the mobile phone interface which also makes the smaller screen to hold more information, to achieve the maximum interface features.
Flat external design generates.The arrival of web2.0 era, breaking the room Internet information barriers between each other, so that the user between the site and realize the two-way exchange of information. With the rapid proliferation of computers, many Internet users to be in the bottom-media background to create vast amounts of information resources, and gradually cause the current information explosion situation. As the Internet and smart phone product interface is filled with more and more information on the loose interface classify and organize the content becomes very important at the striking simplicity of flat icons used to distinguish between different content identification function on It is particularly efficient. To visualize the icons instead of boring text, not only shrink the layout, improve the rate of plate interface, but also convenient for users to search.
With the upgrading of digital products continues to accelerate, the mobile phone market have been the birth of many different sizes and resolution display, which gives materialized from the shadows of the past, icons, textures, gradients, and other three-dimensional effect constitutes brought new challenges diversity phone screen enables designers need to create a variety of sizes and resolutions icons to adapt to this trend, which makes materialized icon design becomes both cumbersome and time-consuming, not only increases the workload of the designer, but also improve the development costs. The flat design uses icons to detail the elements more restrained and more use of vector graphic design elements and symbols, can solve the problem of adaptation at different resolutions.
Flattened icons designed to minimalism as the core, advocated the adoption of a simplified rendering of images to reduce the complexity of a graphical interface, while the use of bright colors to improve the clarity of the interface layout, enables the user to focus more on desired completed tasks. Therefore, the above analysis shows that, flat style icons can help users better perform tasks more functional interface, especially in the smaller screen smart phone interface which, it can well improve recognizable icon element , efficient and user-friendly operating in different environments.
We analyzed the availability of flat icons. First, we analyzed the characteristics of smart phones and equipment operation, carded product usability evaluation system, eye tracking technology related indicators. We introduced the flat design concept, and through existing mobile phone brands and APP interface icons investigation and analysis summarizes the status of the application icon flat, visual form, color and size body element, and generating flat icon analysis of the causes. In the latter part of the article, in conjunction former interim research results, based on the collection and self-painted the corresponding flat icon creative design eye search experiment, and post-test questionnaire and subjects interviews of flat icons availability of comprehensive evaluation. Most smart phone interface design will be used simultaneously to two types of flat icons, such a design approach not only ensures improved aesthetics user interface operational efficiency, but also to some extent, it is possible to attract the user’s . With the social environment and the changing needs of users, smart phone interface design has been in development and change them, from the original materialized style to today’s prevailing flat style appearance of the style icon of the phone has undergone tremendous change, to among the mobile phone interface usability studies icons flat, one can explore the actual efficiency of the icon, subjective feelings and understanding of user satisfaction rating in the course of the icons, it also can be the basis of empirical research on future icon design work to provide a reference and reference.
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Political, Social, and Ethical Ideologies on Graphic Design

Mythology vs. Modernity
Political, social, and ethical ideologies on graphic design in the twentieth century
The following dissertation will discuss whether mythology or modernity had the greatest impact upon the political, social, and ethical ideologies that were closely linked to or had an influence upon graphic design and artistic culture during the twentieth century.
The main focus of this dissertation will be to describe the often-complex relationship between mythology and modernity in relation to political, social, and ethical ideologies with particular reference to Germany and, to a lesser extent the Soviet Union, essentially between 1914 and the early 1930s. Germany and the Soviet Union were chosen as the main case studies for this dissertation, due to them being the countries that had the most complex situations, and often they had a highly contradictory relationship between mythology and modernity in the political, social, and ethical ideologies that influenced graphic design. Germany is of particular interest due to the clash between mythology and modernity at the end of the imperial regime, throughout the short and turbulent Weimar Republic and most strikingly during the Third Reich. Imperial Germany had a government that was autocratic in nature, the Weimar Republic allowed greater cultural diversity, yet suffered from political and economic weaknesses that allowed Adolf Hitler to bring the Third Reich into existence. In the Third Reich, it was Hitler who determined what graphic design was acceptable and pragmatic and which forms of it were politically, socially, as well as ethically unacceptable (just as he did with everything else). As will be mentioned Adolf Hitler’s dislike of anything related to graphic design or architecture if known widely enough could be as effective at preventing things happening or closing down pre-existing organisations as any decree or government legislation. The Soviet Union also arguably interchanged mythology and modernity in the political, social and ethical ideologies that underpinned its graphic design, culture, and its architecture as well as the governing regime. The Communist regime in the Soviet Union and the Nazi regime in Germany had radical agendas that were intended to transform the politics and the society of the countries they ruled over. Both regimes had also intended to alter the political, social, and ethical ideologies of their populations through propaganda, indoctrination, and repression when required. For both regimes graphic design was just one of many ways to achieve their political, social, and ethical objectives, a method that they wished to control and even suppress if that suited their particular objectives and prejudices. These regimes could also find people that could use graphic design techniques to carry out their objectives whilst the formally qualified graphic designers were not used due to doubts over having suitable political, social, and ethical beliefs.
Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the collapse of the Imperial regime had major political, social and ethical consequences that were not just confined to the field of graphic design. Prior to the First World War, the German government had built up the mythology of the invincibility of the German army, strengthened by the modernity and dynamic growth of its economy and its advanced industrial complexes. Germany’s rising economic production and the ability to make industrial products effectively meant that Germany’s power was widely viewed as increasing, a cause for national pride, and also a cause of international concerns that poised a challenge to peace. German militaristic culture and its ambitions to be a great power contributed to the outbreak of the First World War, as did the decision to back all of Austria-Hungary’s demands against Serbia (Fulbrook, 1991, p.3). The Imperial German government used propaganda to maintain the war effort in the wake of heavy fatalities and severe shortages at home, due to the effectiveness of the Royal Navy blockade. The failure of the German spring offensives of 1918 brought about the final collapse (Roberts, 1996, p.455). Around the issue of German surrender in 1918 myths and counter myths would abound. German nationalists claimed that Socialists, Social Democrats, the Centre parties, and the Jews had betrayed the country and its army. Such arguments were put forward by the leading German generals, most notably Ludendorff to deflect from the failures during the war. Other elements in Germany that favoured modernity were those that supported the Weimar Republic most strongly (although that support was not always returned by the Weimar authorities). The ideological conflicts between left and right would last until the Nazi Party came into power. Once the Nazis gained power they intended to radically alter the political, social, and ethical ideologies that dominated Germany through whatever means they had to use. The social and ethical alterations would revolve around cleansing the country of political, social, and racial undesirables (Bullock, 1991, p.74). The effectiveness of German propaganda during the First World War; the political, social, and ethical ideologies and their impact upon graphic design in Germany will discussed in chapters 1 to 3 as well as in the conclusions. The influence, innovations, and the subsequent legacy that the Bauhaus school had on graphic design in Germany and beyond will be scrutinised in greater detail.

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In Germany the movement most closely linked to the concepts of modernity, rather than the concepts of mythology in graphic design would become known as the Bauhaus school after the graphic design school that opened in 1919. The leading members of the future Bauhaus school were frequently working as architects and artists before the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 (some of them in countries that fought against Germany). These artists and architects were equally committed to the concept of modernity and the political ideology of socialism. Ironically enough, the modernist concepts that would form the basis of the Bauhaus school were heavily influenced by British architecture, except for the Germans had in the vast majority of cases kept their allegiance to socialist ideals (Hobsbawm, 1987 p. 225). From its inception the Bauhaus had a mission simple to drive forward its work, projects, and its teaching. That publicly stated aim was ‘The Building of the Future’. The school hoped to make graphic design more accessible and pragmatic to help modernise the economy and help transform art and culture (www.bauhaus/archiv).
There was a competing stronger current in German culture that stressed the cultural, ethical and in more versions the racial superiority of the German nation above all other nations. This vision of a culturally superior Germany was favoured by most right wing groups throughout Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic and was part of the extreme ideological basis of the Nazi party that came to power in 1933. For the German right wing nationalists’ culture went further than occasional trips to the theatre or the cinema. Culture to them was part of the mythology of the greatness of the German people. Such strong and wide-ranging notions of nationalism go a long way towards explaining the highly militaristic nature of both Imperial Germany and the Third Reich. If anything, the militarism of the Third Reich was the most potent form as it was combined with the drive for racial purity, as well as plans to exterminate Communism and the Jews (Bullock, 1991 p. 76).
The emergence of the Communist regime in the Soviet Union also led to a mixture of mythology and modernity influencing the political, social, and ethical ideologies on graphic design. The Communist regime that took power in October 1917 to establish Marxism-Leninism across the former Russian Empire in what eventually became known as the Soviet Union. To secure its future the Communist regime used myths about the struggle to bring revolution, combined with the modernist urges, to end the political, social, industrial, and economic backwardness of the Soviet Union (Hobsbawm, 1994 p. 63). The Soviet regime maintained its grip on power through often large-scale brutal repression, the extensive use of official propaganda and censorship, and systems of party and government patronage. Under the cruel rule of Joseph Stalin the use of all these methods reached its systematic and violent peak with his campaigns to modernise the Soviet Union and crush all opposition real or made up (James, 2003 p. 61). The role of mythology and modernity in the graphic design of the Soviet Union will be discussed in greater depth in chapter 4 and the conclusions.
Chapter 1
Mythology, Modernity, and the collapse of Imperial Germany
Imperial Germany had a rich culture, with mythological and militaristic ideologies seeming to dominate less popular modernist tendencies. The appeal of mythological ideology and heavily military influenced nationalism are linked with German history and the struggle to create a united Germany. Many Germans prided themselves upon their own culture. Imperial Germany for instance, had popular and successful theatres, which had expanded in actual numbers, as well as in the size of their audiences. Musically the pre-war period witnessed the peak in popularity of Richard Wagner’s operas, laden as they were with mythology and heroic references. Imperial Germany saw the foundation of the precursor of the Bauhaus school in the form of the Werkbund as early as 1907. Like the Bauhaus the Werkbund was intended to improve the efficiency of the industrial designs and machinery used by German businesses. The emphasis was upon modernity to drive forward economic growth. At this point in history, Germany was becoming an increasingly powerful country, with a strong economy and a powerful army. Its government was undemocratic, and there was a strong sense of nationalism. Modernity was not rejected, just harnessed to increase the country’s wealth and power (Burns, 1995 p.12).
As a united country Imperial Germany owed its very existence to war, or three wars to be exact. Prussia and Austria had been rivals for the position of the leading German nation, Prussian policy aimed to achieve a united Germany but that seemed to be an unlikely dream. Under the Chancellorship of Count Otto von Bismarck the Prussians gained decisive victories over Denmark, Austria, and then France. Victory against France persuaded the more sceptical German states that it was time to form a united Germany. A single German empire was forged with the Prussian King becoming the German Kaiser (Rayner & Stapley, 2006, p.92). In Imperial Germany, popular culture and mythology centred on the army that had done so much to forge a united Germany. Later, Germany would develop pride in the German navy that Tirpitz turned from a small coastal defence force into a powerful unit capable of challenging the formidable Royal Navy. The massive expansion of the German navy was a fine example of Germany’s booming economy, strong grasp of design and the development of the most up to date technology available (Fulbrook, 1991, p. 3). German military strength and the rise of her naval power were a source of national pride, yet internationally the French wanted revenge for 1870, whilst the British and the Russians were wary of German intentions (Roberts, 1996, p.). When Bismarck had been Chancellor he had been careful to keep France isolated. However, the Kaiser’s quest to increase German power and prestige meant that Russia and Britain became closer to France. The Kaiser’s poor diplomacy and lack of tact meant that Germany had to fight on two fronts. The German military planned for a quick victory in the war in the west to avoid prolonged war on two fronts, although the breaching of Belgian neutrality caused Britain to join the war. However the Germans gained a crushing victory against the Russians at Tannenberg and the Eastern Front, yet were unable to finish the war on the Western Front in 1914 (Colvin, 2004, p.244).
Despite rapid advances in the war the Germans were eventually stopped by the French and British, which would mean a long war (that made German victory unlikely). The German invasion of Belgium had brought Britain into the First World War, which meant that the German army had to gain victory before the Royal Navy blockade starved Germany into submission (Kennedy, 1976 p. 246).
The myth of the greatness of the German army had not been broken in 1914; after all it had almost gained victory in the war. The stunning victory at Tannenberg had produced two new heroes in the form of Hindenburg and Ludendorff who both became leading figures in the conduct of the war, as well as having a great deal of political influence. Neither side was able to break the stalemate on the Western front in 1915, although the Germans helped Turkey to stop the allied offensive in Gallipoli. From an early stage in the First World War the German government realised the importance of propaganda in maintaining both military and civilian morale. Any successes were exaggerated, set backs were either not mentioned at all or their significance was played down (Bourne, Liddle & Whitehead, 2001, p.49).
The German army put all its hopes of winning into the massive offensive against Verdun in 1916, Falkenhayn aimed to kill so many French soldiers that it would break French morale and force their surrender. Verdun almost fell but for the efforts of Petain, it could have broken the French army. The German government presented the Verdun offensive as a victory due to the French having sustained heavier losses. The attack on Verdun brought forward the British led offensive on the Somme. For the Germans, the Somme helped to create the myth that the German army could not be defeated. The defences of the Hindenburg line were formidable and the massive artillery barrage that lasted a week did nothing to break it. The barely touched or harmed German defenders decimated the advancing British and French soldiers. The first day of the Somme remains the worst day in the British army’s history. Allied failure to make a breakthrough in the Somme helped to keep Germany fighting and also morale and confidence high (Bourne, Liddle & Whitehead, 2001, p. 459).
However, the most decisive battle of 1916 was at sea, the battle of Jutland. The Germans claimed victory as they had inflicted heavier losses upon the Royal Navy. The Germans claimed that their ships were better built, more up to date, and therefore were superior, as were the gunnery skills of the German crews. The German navy and the German government did not make public that Jutland had almost been a disaster. The Germans had planned to reduce the superior numbers of the Royal Navy by isolating units from the main British fleet by sinking them all. Instead of that, the Germans met up with the entire Grand Fleet. Only nightfall and the cautious approach of the British admirals prevented the Royal Navy destroying the High Seas Fleet. After Jutland, the Royal Navy maintained its devastating blockade against Germany. From then on the only German naval threat came from its submarine force, and the crews of the High Seas Fleet would prove more of a threat towards the German government than the Royal Navy (Kennedy, 1976, p.247).
During the First World War the German government controlled what newspapers could publish, the press did not usually publicise official casualty or fatality figures, discuss food and fuel shortages or mention anti-war protests. The German government vetted all public theatre or musical performances, whilst the country’s 7,500 cinemas could only show German made films that were considered patriotic. Hollywood films were banned as culturally unsound even before the United States entered the war. German cinemas did show newsreel footage of the war from 1917, yet that footage was restricted in the images that were shown. Germany produced less propaganda articles or posters than Britain or France. German news coverage and propaganda lacked effectiveness compared to British propaganda. The German government was hampered due to the political parties being unable to agree upon the country’s war aims, there was disagreement as to whether they were fighting a war of containment or fighting for financial or territorial gains (Stevenson, 2004, p.277). The German government seemed merely to tell the German media what it could not print or broadcast that it missed the opportunity to ensure that propaganda and information was presented in the most effective manner. The government left the decision of how to present information about the progress of the war to the newspaper editors. The style of writing and presentation of newspapers were adapted to the tastes of the people that brought the newspapers. To a certain extent official information and propaganda was able to disguise bad news from the front yet perhaps it was only effective due to wishful thinking or naivety on the home front. German propaganda and censorship however could not hide food shortage form the German people, those that were not in the army or did not live in agricultural areas had to make do with 50% less food than in 1914. It was also difficult to cover up increasing political divisions over the conduct of the war. Perhaps foolishly the government had not banned public discussions about national war aims, or whether Germany should find ways to end the war through peace talks. The government could not hide the splits of the Social Democratic Party either. The most left wing of the Social Democratic splinter groups was very outspoken about Germany’s chances of winning the war and called for ending it as soon as possible. During the course of the First World War, German newspapers changed in size and in the actual print types used. Although smaller newspapers with simpler print types may have pleased readers such changes owed more to shortages of paper than altered graphic design or attempts to make propaganda more effective (Stevenson, 2004, p.279).
The German government had great confidence that its submarines or U-boats could get Britain out of the war by breaking its Atlantic supply lines. At first the German navy had stuck to the rules of war, only naval ships were sunk on sight, merchant ships were inspected and all crews were usually evacuated before sinking the ships. The Royal Navy responded by arming merchant ships and using ‘Q’ ships, these were warships disguised as merchant ships to sink unsuspecting U-boats (a strategy that worked well but broke international maritime law). U-boat commanders retaliated by sinking ships if they believed them to be armed or carrying war supplies. The German government convinced the German public that its U-boats were providing heroic services and could even win the war. However, the U-boats caused controversy with the sinking of the liner Lusitania in May 1915 with the loss of over 1,000 lives, including many Americans. German propaganda that the Lusitania was carrying munitions was not widely accepted as much as British denials were. The Germans sink on sight policy was dropped to prevent United States entry in to the war (Rayner & Stapley, 2006, p.105). The Germans returned to unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917, arguing it was a morally justified measure in response to the Royal Navy blockade of Germany. The German U-boats initially caused heavy shipping losses that threatened British food and war supplies. The U-boat campaign helped to bring the US into the war against Germany, British propaganda was very effective in persuading American public opinion to support entry into the war. The German government however, could have increased its chances of victory by improving the efficiency of German industry and agriculture. The German failure to fully mobilise their resources disproved their claims of modernity and efficiency (Hobsbawm, 1994, p.28).
Despite the failure of the U-boat campaign to eliminate Britain from the First World War, the Germans still had chances to win the war. The collapse of the Tsarist regime in Russia presented the German military with opportunities to win the war before the United States could intervene decisively. The Russian Provisional Government carried on fighting against Germany, although the October Revolution that brought the Bolsheviks to power effectively ended the fighting on the Eastern front (Bullock, 1991, p.69). The Russian exit from the war allowed Hindenburg and Ludendorff to transfer army units from the Eastern to the Western Front for the Spring offensive of 1918 (which they knew was their last chance to win the war). There was the drawback that part of the German army and navy became attracted to revolutionary ideas as a means to end the war and bring fundamental political changes to Germany (Fulbrook, 1991, p.22). Hindenburg and Ludendorff knew something that the German government’s propaganda kept from the public; the spring offensive was the last throw of the dice. Although the spring offensive gave the German army its furthest advances in the West since August 1914, it failed to break the Allies and end the war. The failure of the spring offensive meant that Germany could only lose the war. Hindenburg and Ludendorff found civilian politicians to seek armistice to end the war. They hoped that these civilians would take the blame for the defeat, which is just what happened. The same generals that failed to win the war blamed the people left to pick up the shattered pieces of Imperial Germany for their failures. Hindenburg and Ludendorff invented the mythology of the ‘stab in the back’ that so undermined the Weimar Republic (Brendon, 2000, p.9).
Germany’s defeat came as a bitter shock to the majority of the German population as the government’s strict censorship of bad news and its attempts at propaganda had convinced the majority of German people that defeat was not possible or indeed likely in the near future. Propaganda and censorship made it appear that Germany was in a stronger position than was actually the case. Government bulletins had deceived people into believing that the sacrifices and losses would be worth it once victory had been achieved. The bulletins gave an ultimately false impression that German victory was at hand. This was especially the case when the spring offensive made its initial gains. If the majority of the population had not believed wartime propaganda then the myth of the ‘stab in the back’ would not have gained so much currency in subsequent years after the war (Bourne, Liddle & Whitehead, 2001, p.460). The truth was that the First World War exhausted Germany, the modernity of its army, navy and its weak allies, inefficient organisation, and the effects of the Royal Navy blockade nullified industry. The German army and the navy were affected by Communist and revolutionary impulses. The German army’s morale was lowered as a result of the spring offensives, soldiers found out that the Allied armies were better fed and equipped than they were (Brendon, 2000, p.8). The army was broken after August 1918 and in non-stop retreat. It had not been defeated, although the arrival of large numbers of American troops and the surrender of Austria meant that defeat was inevitable (Holmes, 1999 p.213). The ‘stab in the back’ myth had no basis in reality, yet it would endure long enough to severely undermine the viability of the Weimar Republic due to millions of Germans believing it (Fulbrook, 1991, p.23).
Chapter 2
Mythology & Modernity during the Weimar Republic
Some of Imperial Germany’s most gifted artists, architects, and writers had fought in the First World War. Although some of them had held left wing political opinions, they had not avoided military service. Amongst the influential modernists that served in the war was the painter Paul Klee. Paul Klee went on to survive the conflict, whilst his fellow artists Franz Marc and August Macke were killed in action. Marc and Macke had both been talented modernist painters. They had been in a group with Wassily Kandinsky they had decided to call ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ or in English, The Blue Rider. This small group of artists favoured a strand of modernity referred to as abstraction (Faerna, 2000 p. 8). It has been argued that the experiences of military service had the affect of radicalising those that returned from the front. In the case of Germany, her veterans were drawn towards either the rabidly nationalist ring wing groups such as the Nazi party, or they were drawn towards the revolutionary left. Amidst the debris of a war shattered country the old monarchy was replaced by the Weimar Republic. As a matter of coincidence the centre of excellence for the modernists in Weimar era Germany, the Bauhaus school was also founded in Weimar during 1919 (Hobsbawm, 1994 p. 179). In many respects the founders of the Bauhaus school had similar political, social, and ethical ideologies to those that had drafted the constitution of the Weimar Republic. Like the architects of the Weimar Republic, the founders of the Bauhaus favoured modernity, cultural diversity, and they were internationalist in outlook (James, 2003 p. 85).
History has certainly not been kind to the Weimar Republic, Germany’s first taste of liberal democracy that was detested by millions of Germans, as well as being beset by major political and economic weaknesses particularly after the Great Depression. The collapse of the monarchy had allowed the Weimar Republic to be created to the decidedly inauspicious background of military defeat, an enforced peace treaty and political unrest at home. The optimism of pre-war Imperial Germany had been shattered by the time the First World War had finished (James, 2003, p.73).
The Weimar Republic had a very liberal constitution with left wing and centre parties supporting the new system. The Weimar Republic was not at first accepted by the Communists or right wing nationalist parties. The new German state lacked the economic dynamism of Imperial Germany, especially as the Ruhr Valley industry output was harnessed to the French economy. The Germans protested about the reparations enforced upon them by the Treaty of Versailles. The Versailles settlement was intended to strip Germany of the power to wage war again, the army was reduced to 100,000 men, and the high command was abolished. The German navy was reduced to a weak coastal defence force banned from having submarines. Germany was also banned from having an airforce. The Allies had hoped to break militarism in Germany, yet only caused resentment amongst the German people. Resentment of the Versailles settlement fuelled dislike of the Weimar Republic, although the government could not have rejected the treaty. Germany simply did not have the military, human, or economic resources to have carried on fighting which was why Ludendorff had brought civilians into the government in the first place, to use as fall guys for the army’s failure to win the war (Shirer, 1988, p.32).
However fragile the political and economic situation was in the Weimar era, Germany was certainly not a cultural or artistic backwater. In fact, Germany during the Republican period gained an international renown for its cultural and artistic achievements. Some of these cultural and artistic trends had existed before the First World War; others such as the Bauhaus School most closely linked with Walter Gropius flourished in this period (Fulbrook, 1991, p.39). Much of the cultural diversity witnessed during the Weimar Republic fits into the concepts of modernity. Walter Gropius, Thomas Mann, and Arnold Schonberg were notable members of the German modernist avant-garde who got their best opportunities to fully express themselves after the First World War (Hobsbawm, 1994, p.179). German avant-garde modernism was influenced by two American imports after the First World War, cinematic films, and jazz music. The Weimar Republic had a flourishing filmmaking sector, although it could not match the production levels or profits generated by Hollywood. Hollywood studios, especially Universal Studios liked to use ideas from relatively unknown German films, such as Frankenstein. Even before the Nazi’s took power and repressed the degenerate elements of modernity; German technicians and filmmakers could always find work in Hollywood. Gropius and the Bauhaus linked itself with jazz music, which they regarded as the height of modernity in musical terms. The right wing politicians and extreme nationalists disliked jazz due to its Black American origin, as much as for its musical merits (Hobsbawm, 1994, pp.184-85).
The Bauhaus School membership was almost entirely made up of left wing sympathisers who preferred the new republic to the old monarchy.
The Social Democrats retained their previous popularity but the new Weimar Republic actually allowed it a share of power. The greater freedoms that were allowed under the Republican regime would mean that the Bauhaus and other centres of German modernity were not only linked with Socialism or Marxism, they were also linked with Germany’s moral degeneration. Places where new culture was stronger, especially Berlin, were frequently resented for moral decadence and politically subversive views. The Bauhaus also tried to change the print types used in German newspapers and their own printed material. This was partly to make the graphic design better to look at as well as to save resources which traditional print types used more of (Fulbrook, 1991, p.41). For instance, Lyonell Feininger taught at the Bauhaus, yet had previously been a cartoonist that had gained a reputation for producing hard hitting political satire in his newspaper cartoons. Whilst working for the Bauhaus Feininger went on to become a highly skilled painter and woodcutter. His work reflected that the influence of the Cubist movement remained strong throughout his career (www.articons.co.uk). Wassily Kandinsky had been a founding member of the ‘Blaue Reiter’ before the First World War forced his return to his native Russia. Whilst at the Bauhaus, Kandinsky did some of his finest work most notably the ‘Kleine Welten’ of 1922. He broadened his artistic horizons, whilst using his skills as a graphic designer to produce stage sets and theatrical costumes (www.articons.co.uk). Laszlo Moholy-Nagy came up with some innovative photographic techniques that later became widely used in journalistic graphic design. These techniques produced photographic quality pictures without the need to use a camera which Moholy–Nagy referred to as photograms. Moholy –Nagy became a film producer, as well as further developing photograms to be incorporated into printed text (Crystal, 1998 p. 652).
Dislike of the new democratic Germany was not just confined to extreme nationalist groups, teachers, civil servants, as well as the Catholic and Protestant churches were suspicious if not downright hostile towards the Weimar Republic. The political, social and ethical decadence of the Weimar Republic came to a head in 1923. This year was when the French occupied the Ruhr Valley and also when Germany was devastated by hyperinflation. Hyperinflation brought misery to millions of ordinary Germans; it made wages, savings, and pensions worthless. Millions turned in desperation towards the Communists, but also for the first time the Nazi party. Hyperinflation was the event, which also saw Adolf Hitler brought to national attention, after the failed putsch in Munich during November 1923. Hitler skilfully used his trial to publicly express the aims of the Nazi party. Germany’s severe economic problems also prompted American recovery packages that gave the Weimar Republic the appearance of political and economic stability (Brendon, 2000, pp.29-30). Domestically, stability seemed to be achieved under th

Integrating Biomimicry into Graphic Design Practices


Integrating Biomimicry into Graphic Design to create more effective and innovative design process.

Problem Statement

Will this new and innovative design process of integrating biomimicry with graphic design help designers to think differently, using nature as their inspiration in order create more sustainable design solutions?



Integrating nature into design practices is a thesis proposal which intends to explore the effectiveness of combining methodologies of biomimicry into graphic design discipline. Through adapting nature’s principles into graphic design practices to create sustainable design solutions. The objective is to provide understanding to the designers and clients that nature has a lot to offer in resolving many great challenges which are created by graphic design. The aim of this thesis is to create a sustainable process for graphic design practices to avoid negative impact on our ecosystems. This thesis works as a lens for graphic designers to observe what observe the world around us through the implementation of a design process based on bio-mimetics. Overall, this thesis is meant to encourage designers to observe their surroundings and explore what does nature offers. This new mindset can help to shape a better future for people, design, and our planet.

Situation Analysis


The application of biomimicry into graphic design can be used as a challenge for the designers to create more effective and nature friendly solutions to create a sustainable design based solutions. Biomimicry is a new discipline it is innovation inspired by nature, as Janine Benyus. It is a process of looking at nature and learning and adapting into design better outcomes.

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Graphic design is one of the leading polluters of our environment. Its wasteful, costly and non-effective processes had made it 3rd largest industrial polluter releasing 9% of total manufacturing carbon dioxide emissions. 220 million pounds of toxic pollution and 3 million tons of chlorine are released into water and air annually. Deforestation adds 120 billion tons of CO2 every year. Moreover, other pollution sources are: VOC, transportation, hazardous ink compounds, binding materials, electronic tools and electricity.

In addition to the above factors most of the graphic and print design workspaces needs to rethink on their unethical energy consumption. The need to reframe their usage of materials that contribute to a pollution. Through this thesis project graphic designers can form a new insight which can provide an eco-friendly option to both clients and mother nature.

Target Audience


The specific target audience for this thesis is designers at professional level working in industry with extensive knowledge within the field of design. However, people who are interested in pursuing graphic design or biomimicry as their field of study can also understand the concepts presented through this project and how graphic design related practices can refined through using biomimicry design lens.





18 or higher

Male or Female

Professional level Designers











Nature works as a Stakeholder because it is too big to fail. It provides us such resources and her free ecosystem services which have been taken for granted and undervalued by business, society and by man-made inventions.

AIGA Design for good provides opportunities to designers to build their practice, expand their network. It works as an ethos for problem-solving and design thinking towards social and ecological change. AIGA Design for good works as a stakeholder for this project. The application of biomimicry into graphic design can provide an impactful toolkit for the upcoming designers through AIGA Design for good platform which can be a powerful resource for the designers.

United Nations Environment (UN Environment) is the global environmental authority which promotes the implementation of sustainable development in our ecosystem. By collaborating with UN Environment, we have developed a mission to inspire, inform and enable systems, people, designers and clients to improve their quality of life and our environment with compromising the future of upcoming generations.


How biomimicry can be integrated with graphic design?


Biomimicry is the imitation of models, elements and systems of our local environment for solving human created complex problems.

If I could reveal something that was hidden…I would reveal that we live in a confident universe, that we are part of a brilliant planet and that we are surrounded by genius. Biomimicry is a new discipline that tries to learn from those geniuses and take advice, design advice, from them…What’s happening now in Biomimicry is people are beginning to remember that the natural world is doing things now that we need to do and doing them gracefully to live here on the planet…What we need to do is to find a way to minimize the amount of materials we use, the kind of materials we use, and add design to it…How can we live here gracefully over the long haul? How can we do what life has learned to do?…which is to create conditions conducive to life…The design challenge of our century is we need a way to remind ourselves of those geniuses and to somehow meet them again.” (Benyus,2009)

TED Talks: Biomimicry in action, Filmed July 2009 (http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action.html)

Biomimicry in graphic design refers to all the processes that integrates an environmentally friendly approach, considering natural resources as part of design and learning from nature and adapting into design strategies. To better fit in with the rest of nature, humans (graphic designers) can more correctly identify the problem, filter through nature’s solutions, think in a systematic perspective, and design for human user experience. Exploring how to integrate biomimicry + graphic design is one of the many avenues to a more sustainable world and is arguably one of the most powerful leverage points to creating conditions conducive to life. (Mckosky, 2019)



Concept Design for a new 3D Printer using carbon sequestration techniques. The carbon fiber powder is mixed with the ink resin to create products sequestered with carbon so it can decrease the amount of CO2 from our atmosphere. The Idea of using carbon Sequestration techniques was inspired by looking at nature. 

Life Building Blocks comic has spun from a school of thought by Janine Benyus. A process of looking at nature and learning, adapting in design disciplines. The major aim of this comic

“Life Building Blocks” is to make readers and designers learn, appreciate and adapt natures life building techniques in contrast with human industry and engineering.

Evaluation and conclusion


The evaluation criteria is very important in order to reflect the objectives are being addressed correctly and clearly demonstrates an understanding of the subject matter. To assess my designs, I will be regularly looking for the impacts on my audiences and will be able to analyze how can I improve my designs or mindset. The goal of my final application and prototypes is to create awareness among the masses and designers that integrating biomimicry with in their own unique processes can help our ecosystems. Through my thesis designers will be able to define, analyze, observe, select, implement and evaluate all the necessary steps to create sustainable design solution within graphic design.


Precedents and research


In order, to understand the methodology and process of graphic design and biomimicry an extensive research and in-depth survey of literature and precedents was done. This thesis revolves heavily around how modern design practices can be enhanced by using biomimetic principles. The innovators of biomimicry who are making this field prominent in design industry were important while investigating all the aspects of this thesis.


Survey of Literature

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine Benyus.

The Way Nature Works by Robins Rees.

Design Lessons from Nature by Benjamin De Brei Taylor.

Biologic: Designing with Nature to Protect the Environment by David Wann.

Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the Field by Ellen Lupton & Helen Armstrong.

A Top-Down Biomimetic Design Process for Product Concept Generation by I. Fornies.

Rethinking Print Design: The impact of Sustainability on the Future of Print

by Camille Romano

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart & William McDonough




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Good, D. (2019). Design for Good. [online] AIGA | the professional association for design. Available at: https://www.aiga.org/design-for-good [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Willard, B. (2019). 5 Reasons Why “Mother Nature” is a Key Stakeholder. [online] Sustainability Advantage. Available at: https://sustainabilityadvantage.com/2019/02/28/5-reasons-why-mother-nature-is-a-key-stakeholder/ [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Computing for Sustainability. (2019). Visualising sustainability. [online] Available at: https://computingforsustainability.com/2009/03/15/visualising-sustainability/ [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Pierson, J. (1947). Is this Print Necessary?. Design, 48(5), pp.20-21.

Theseus.fi. (2019). Rethinking Print Design: The Impact of Sustainability on the Future of Print. [online] Available at: https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/77153/Romano_Camille.pdf;sequence=1 [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Benyus, J. (2009). Biomimicry. Pymble, NSW: HarperCollins e-books.

Benyus, J. (2009). Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature. [online] Available at: http://www.aroundmyhouseconsignment.com/biomimicry-innovation-inspired-by-nature-english.pdf [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Rees, R. (1992). The Way Nature Works. Mitchell Beazley International Ltd.

Cushman-Roisin, B. (2019). SUSTAINABLE DESIGN. [online] Dartmouth.edu. Available at:             http://www.dartmouth.edu/~cushman/courses/engs44/DesignPrinciples.pdf [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Forniés, I. and Muro, L. (2012). A top-down biomimetic design process for product concept generation. International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, 7(1), pp.27-48.

Why Biomimicry in Graphic Design?. (2012). Directed by M. Fehler.

The 10-step Naturefactor graphic design process. (2012). Directed by M. Fehler.

Naturefactor. (2019). step 10: Nature Is a Stakeholder – naturefactor. [online] Available at: http://www.naturefactor.com/step10/ [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Berry, N. (2019). Anticommercial Purposes: New Methods in Graphic Design and Radical Environmental Change. [online] Core.ac.uk. Available at: https://core.ac.uk/display/84828434 [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Fu, K., Moreno, D., Yang, M. and Wood, K. (2019). Bio-Inspired Design: An Overview Investigating Open Questions From the Broader Field of Design-by-Analogy.

Armstrong, H. (2009). Graphic Design Theory. [online] Available at: https://designopendata.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/graphicdesigntheory_helenarmstrong.pdf [Accessed 1 May 2019].

Greenerpackage.com. (2019). Biopolymers in packaging—some hurdles, but strong signs of growth | Greener Package. [online] Available at: https://www.greenerpackage.com/bioplastics/biopolymers_packaging%E2%80%94some_hurdles_strong_signs_growth [Accessed 1 May 2019].

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To what Extent have Women been Represented Successfully within the Contemporary Australian Graphic Design Industry?

To what Extent have Women been Represented Successfully within the Contemporary Australian Graphic Design Industry?

To truthfully answer the research question presented above, in relation to the scope “contemporary”, we must first understand that within the second half of the 20th century the representation of women within the field of Australian Graphic Design was extremely limited. This fact is prevalent despite statistics showing us that on average, 50% of all Australian graphic design university graduates were in fact women (Connory, 2017, 1). Historically, women have faced major difficulties in relation to gaining entry and representation, a fact that is essentially highlighted throughout the 20th century due to prevailing attitudes, patriarchal standards and professional hurdles (Bruce, 1990, 116). Moving forward in time, we observe towards the beginning to the 21st century there has been some progression made in relation to this issue however, in the words of Senior Graphic Designer Antonio Carusone, “Not enough women designers are given the recognition that they deserve” and only revealing one aspect of our history would only succeed in the creation of uninformed designers (Hinn, 2014). With this information in mind we can begin to explore and evaluate the representation of Women in contemporary Graphic Design within Australia by observing a variety of topics such as the importance of design awards, statistical data sets and promotion within the workplace. To successfully answer the question, through visual analysis, we will compare and contrast the work of two separate designers who aim to instil change within this bustling arena of Graphic Design.  

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The entire concept of awards within the industry is extremely important as it acts a firm statistical pillar that will allow us to objectively view different sets of information in relation to the representation of women in the industry. According to Margaret Bruce and Jenny Lewis, one of the final major hurdles a woman working as a professional designer faces is the difficulty to acquire design significant design awards. It is true that within the canon there have been women who have been presented with said significant design awards however, a large majority of firms are owned by men, a majority of senior positions are held by men and a majority of awards are presented to men (Bruce, 1990, 119).

To further emphasize this key point we can observe the exhibition, “Anonymity” created by Jane Connory through countless amounts of research into the visibility of female graphic designers. Exhibited in Melbourne, this series of posters below visualize and showcase statistical data in regards to the amount of awards won within the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) by female graphic designers based on their design pathway between 1994 and 2015. These seven posters are broken up into seven different fields for designers, namely, Creative Directors, Typographers, Illustrators, Finished Artists, Designers, Art Directors and Judges (Connory, 2017).

The entire concept behind these posters is to fuse all statistical information collected with a physical design element to faithfully showcase the current invisibility of women within the AGDA awards. With each poster we can observe a very straightforward and direct approach to presentation of information in the form of a pie chart. As we can see there are three areas of information, male, female and in some cases other genders. Within each poster the male dynamic is represented by a solid black print with the conventional symbolism of an arrow pointing diagonally then below in white we have the representation of female designers with a cross pointing downwards, perhaps to further showcase that the average female representation throughout this time period has been underwhelming. Adjacent to this diagram in sans serif bold font we are shown the key statistic illustrated through each creation for example “15% of of creative directors were women” (Connory, 2017).

Furthermore, to strengthen the impact of each statement within, Connory uses monochromatic material to completely shade and obscure the information as the data has been printed with black upon black paper, purposefully creating a difficulty in readability. In addition, the black segments of each pie chart was set on white acetate and pressed back within the glass inside the black framing influencing ones ability to gauge said information clearly, visually showing us that the positioning of women within the graphic design industry is also unclear and difficult to read. The audience is further mentally stimulated as they view the data for women represented within white negative space. This point is then further emphasised through visual means as behind the design itself exists a black mount that further conceals all text and creates a distinct shadow again influencing the viewers ability to truly see the data. The idea behind this type of presentation is to challenge the audience, to motivate the viewer to closely inspect the data perhaps symbolizing the idea that the representation of women within the contemporary Australian Graphic Design industry is very low and to gauge that representation requires a great deal of effort. To further compliment this exhibition Connory has created a set of animated gif files to showcase the information within each poster in the aims to move this discussion on to a digital front allowing all audience users to easily share the research in a very convenient and efficient manner (Connory, 2017).


The work presented above by Connory has become pivotal for advancing the representation of women within graphic design but additionally it could definitely be viewed as a project that strongly promotes feministic views. We can define the term feminism as the political, social and economic equality of sexes and the belief that men and women should have the same level of rights and opportunities (Hawkesworth, 2006, 25). Moving forward I would like to compare and contrast the approach of Jane Connory to that of Kelly Doley, an artist, curator and arts manager currently situated in Sydney who has also been responsible for creations that promote feministic views (Doley, 2019). Doley, who was responsible for creating and curating the exhibition : ‘Things Learnt about Feminism’, exhibited a series of ninety-five hand painted posters visualizing knowledge gained from sixteen different lessons by sixteen different participants based on feminism (Groom, 2016).


Furthermore, If we analyse the photograph taken below, we can see each poster aligned together in a horizontal formation across two different walls representing the culmination of multiple different lessons on feminism. This graphical approach in comparison to Connory’s is very different as it incorporates a large amount of colour and much less graphical repetition within each illustrative element in addition to using far more hand drawn imagery. In contrast, each illustration is extremely different to the next in terms of execution but still remains focused on transmitting the core message, promoting the rights of women which in essence is exactly what Connory also aims to accomplish within her own exhibition though she is far more geared towards the representation of women in graphic design specifically. Moreover, we can also contrast the physical elements used within Doley’s work as being very elemental and simple as designs upon single sheet of coloured paper where as Connory placed much more emphasis within the physical construction of her frames to denote the position of women within graphic design awards and create a unique viewing experience for the audience. 



On the other hand, though there exists a fair amount of contrasts there are also many comparative features that both pieces of work share. Take for example the visual presentation of both pieces, they are both set within and exhibition format intended to engage a physical audience. Both pieces use are graphically dependent on typography and imagery We can also note that there are some posters within Doley’s collection that engage with the same philosophy transmitted within Connory’s work such as the posters shown below. The entire ethos behind ‘Anonymity’ and ‘Things Learnt about Feminism’ are transmit the same message, equality. The lack of female representation within the Australian Graphic Design sphere is due to a lack of equality and without a rise of equality this representation may remain low.



History and Developments in Graphic Design

Graphic Design
Graphic design is everywhere from newspapers to posters to new media. The true question is what is graphic design? Is it beneficial to strive to be a graphic designer in the modern world?
To get started we must look at key fields for new and upcoming graphic designers; Web Design, Illustration, Graphic Design or New Media.
Graphic design; Branding: most graphic designers go into branding. However, it is just as common for graphic designers to specialize in one specific area of branding such as package design or logo design. Should branding not be for you there are other fields to look at like editorial design which usually is more to do with layouts of magazines, newspapers and books.

History of Poster Design
Graphic design can arguably be traced back to cave men time. Before the digital  revolution posters where originally hand painted, this meant that having a poster made up for a company or business was very expensive.
One of the biggest inventions for poster design was a technique called lithography created in 1798 which boosted the whole sector.  It was the first time that designers could mass produce their designs. This technique would change the industry, it worked by first drawing a design with lithopencils (waxy pencils) on limestone and then the limestone would be treated and prepped with oils and gum arabic.  After the stone is ready, the limestone is put though a press which squashed the limestone and paper together transferring the design onto paper. A benefit of this process was the fact that they could make replicas of the design costing a fraction of the price of having a designer do it by hand.  However, lithography was done in simple black and white prints meaning that although the process was faster the end result lacked colour, meaning these posters were less effective than others which had many hues of colour.
 In 1880 there was a new procedure called the “3 stone lithographic process” which allowed designers to use colour making them effective and easy to mass produce.

Poster Design in the 21st century
Today in poster design most things are done with digital technology. The Thor movie poster for example, clearly has been heavily edited on a computer. It is fair to say you can tell this poster is modern rather than being created in 1945 as they simply could not have produced a poster with such high resolution because of the lack of technology. As you can clearly see that this poster contains elements of photography, which has been edited and then added digitally using Photoshop.  It is also more than likely that the textures in this poster would have been created digitally.

Development of GRAPHIC Design
Economically graphic design is highly sought after by companies and businesses who want to stand out against competitors.  As graphic design grows and changes it becomes more defined and specialized in each discipline (e.g. logo design, typography and photography).
Good graphic design is key in the 21st century. Good graphic design makes the difference between selling your product, or not having a customer. Today no matter your skills or your trade everyone needs a corporate identity and graphic design can make you visible, inviting, and intriguing to potential clients. Think of any big company, Apple, Samson, Marvel and Vans all have teams of people making their brand visible ensuring that their company looks as good as possible to their target demographic.  This is done with marketing and giving the brand some personality, for example, IRN BRU is well known for their tongue and cheek adverts. Their ads always feature things such as slang which is part of their target demographics everyday vocabulary as opposed to the rather more formal correct English. IRN BRU use “slang” as they want to be known for being a Scottish brand. They also add Scottish themes such as in the context of their ad e.g. The advert ‘New Fella’ is about his daughter’s new boyfriend who is an England fan. The ad pokes fun at the English several times and the father uses IRN BRU to cope with the ‘stress’ of the boyfriend being an England fan.

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Graphic design has helped shape and change our culture and as a graphic designer you are expected to know all about the current trends, allowing you to attract your target audience by making use of this knowledge. Graphic design has been used to send some of the most impactful messages, such as the campaign for Barack Obama. When you think of or hear his name you think of things like hope, freedom and change, all because at the core of his campaign graphic designers boosted the idea of him being the image of hope. Also his campaign suggested change that the people wanted.

In graphic design you have to be aware of cultural differences a huge difference for designers to be aware of is the different annotations for colour theory.
A good example of this is the colour red as in the UK it symbolises boldness, excitement and even danger. This is why red is typically seen in sports cars such as Ferraris. Whereas in a country like Japan the colour red is used to represent luck, wealth and happiness and because of its positive connotations the colour is used a lot in print fabrics and common house hold objects.
So in short graphic designers need to understand that different cultures colours are interpreted in different ways. A good example is David Bowie’s tribute advertisement between the ‘Swiss Style’ and the styles seen more commonly in the UK the swiss style is heavily typographic and shape based using repetitive or limited colour pallets as the style was known for using asymmetrical balance to crate visual interest. The UK poster however is the complete opposite using daring colours like red and black for dramatic effect.

Copyright laws are very serious and breaking them can lead to very severe consequences possibly going to prison for up to half a year. In graphic design there are two main features to be aware of: firstly using images that do not belong to you, it is important to remember to check if the image has a creative commercial license because restrictions can vary e.g. some images you cannot change in any way, and some cannot be used in a business / commercial setting.
The second issue is plagiarism, plagiarism is where you copy someone else’s work, Plagiarism comes in two main areas.
The most obvious area is copying and pasting from a website, without crediting the creater of the content. To steal someone’s ideas and passing them off as your ideas is another form of plagiarism
Visual Communication areas of Employment
In Graphic Design there are several areas of employment e.g. marketing, publishing, and animation. Publishing houses tend to receive a manuscript from a writer which they edit producing a brief for the team to follow. Books covering from childhood through to teens, the design team will be tasked with making up page layouts, covers and styles that are age appropriate. The team make up may have: publisher, proof reader, editor, illustrator and sales for marketing the finished product. Some publishing houses may outsource certain task such proof reading and illustration.
However, marketing focuses mainly on advertising and brand identity they typically with established Brands it will be to help promote a new product. They also have to work within social media creating banners, posters and logos promoting across multiple platforms such as mobile phones and laptops. It is essential that they be aware how something looks across these platforms as screen sizes and resolutions can change from device to device. Facebook is a clear example of this as the mobile version trims out a few functions such as seeing who’s online and instead shows more of the main field as they want the user to focus on the new product being promoted.
The Design Council Report 2018 states in 2016 the UK Graphic Design Industry showed a “6% growth rate (representing 99,604 jobs) compared to the UK average growth rate of 4% since 2014” employment within graphic design in the UK would appear to be easier to find now.
Last but not least, animation which is used in a plethora of ways such as motion graphics for advertising, is where elements of an ad move or jump to make the viewer engage more with the advertisement.  The entertainment industry and the video games industry both use animation to spectacular effect.
As a graphic designer you have three options for work: being in-house, agency or freelance.  Freelance is running your own business and design studio, which means you are free to choose the work you want to do, but, as it is a very competitive field you may struggle to get contracts.  The other two usually work in small teams they will share roles depending on the skill sets of each member of the team. The difference between in-house and studio is that in-house refers to a company e.g. Disney where the work you produce will focus on the one brand name.  Whereas, working for an agency the work tends to be for multiple brands creating products: such as posters and magazine covers.
Career paths
Illustration: branches out into many sectors such as children’s book, editorial, medical, publishing and advertising. Illustrators are tasked to create a plethora of things such as: leaflets, books, covers, blogs, story-boards and catalogues. An illustrator’s is job is to talk with their client communicate ideas and come up with creative solutions to the clients problem in line with the brief. They must also chose an appropriate style for the work they will be illustrating e.g. a medical illustration would be vastly different from a children’s’ book illustration.
The Design Council stated; Graphic Designers tend to work within marketing or rebranding as “two-fifths of our survey respondents agreed that the use of design within their organisation has contributed to an increase in sales, turnover, business competitiveness, awareness and recognition of the brand “. Rebranding usually means giving a business a face lift, discussing the businesses’ core principals and what they want their users to experience. From this graphic designers make mock ups (story boards) to show to the client. Some of the things that fall under rebranding are: logo, social media presence, businesses cards, motion graphics and webpage design.
Graphic Designers can also go into marketing which means making posters, webpages, tracking social media, banners, brochures, business cards, editing and digital imaging just to name a few areas. A graphic designer’s role can vary from job to job as some graphic designers may want to work within television ads meaning that there more likely to work with script writers and work within editing whereas people who work within logo design will work more with Adobe Illustrator.
Skills and Qualifications
A junior designer or someone who is interning, usually companies will look for an HND level of qualification according to UCAS. Skills wise most businesses expect individuals to have a good knowledge of the Adobe Suite, programmes such as InDesign Illustrator and Photoshop. This is a changing field of work new technology is developed constantly, being adaptable is an essential key skill. For example according to photoshopessentials.com ‘Adobe releases major updates to Photoshop CC every six months’ which shows that the industry is always changing and adapting’
Photography is a useful asset to have in graphic design along with basic camera skills, as quite a few designers chose to go into advertising.  It is vital to have a good sense of design and an eye for detail as well as being aware of colour theory, all of these are critical in this sector.
Working freelance means that you need to consider what job roles that you would have to cover as you are both employer and employee.
Employer and employee responsibilities
Aside from the actual graphic design process as a freelancer you would also be responsible for; writing up contracts, pricing that would be either your rate per hour or for the whole contract and producing invoices to do the necessary billing to the clients. It is essential to have a good working relationship and rapport with the client, so that you can have a clear picture and understanding of what the client wants.  Being freelance means that there’s not a set contracted hours, some clients may want things done in a limited timeframe.  Something else to consider is unlike being a typical employee your earnings will not be guaranteed week by week or month by month. This is simply due to the fact that one month you may have several projects whereas at other times you may only have one or two projects. However in-house graphic designers have contracted hours and standard rate of pay (salary) making a more stable life style.

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